Can I Request Accommodations If I am Pregnant?

February 26, 2019

Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time for any family. Unfortunately, for mothers who rely on their income, it can quickly become a very stressful time. Generally, pregnant employees have the right to request accommodations in the workplace. Those accommodations can be things such as extended breaks or permission to sit while working.

Unfortunately, some workers do not receive those accommodations that they are entitled to. Some employers can try to avoid or ignore the requests for accommodation, and on some occasions may even terminate the employee who is requesting them. That it was why it is important for employees to know the rights and protections afforded to them by the law.

Reasonable Accommodations

Federal and state law both mandate that employees who are expecting are entitled to request necessary accommodations and cannot be discriminated against for requesting them. In terms of federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides these protections for pregnant employees. While most states provide similar protections, In California, the state law is more expansive than Title VII. While Title VII applies applies to employers with 15 or more employees, California law applies to any employer with 5 or more employees.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.”

Some common types of accommodations that are listed by the EEOC include, “modifying work schedules or supervisory methods, granting breaks or providing leave, altering how or when job duties are performed or removing and/or substituting C marginal function.”

How Do Requests for Reasonable Accommodations Work?

Generally, when an employee requests an accommodation, by law, the employer must make a reasonable effort to accommodate them. The employer must assist the employee with whatever is specified in the request or with a similar accommodation. In some situations, the employee can deny the requested accommodation. For example, if the request by the employee is a request that would cause the employer undue hardship then the employee may deny it. Undue hardship means that the requests would jeopardize the employee’s business or its dealings. According to the EEOC, Undue Hardship is defined as, “ Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business. An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.”

The EEOC specifies several types of accommodations which they have deemed to be reasonable. Common types if accommodation include:

  • modifying work schedules or supervisory methods
  • altering how or when job duties are performed
  • removing and/or substituting a marginal function
  • moving to different office space
  • providing telework beyond that provided by the collective bargaining agreement or the relevant MOU
  • making changes in workplace policies (e.g., concerning granting breaks or providing leave)
  • providing assistive technology, including information technology and communications equipment or specially designed furniture
  • providing a reader or other staff assistant to enable employees to perform their job functions, where accommodation cannot be provided by current staff (See Appendix E for information on hiring staff assistants)
  • removing an architectural barrier, including re configuring work spaces
  • providing accessible parking if the agency provides on-site parking to all employees
  • providing materials in alternative formats (g., Braille, large print)
  • providing a reassignment to another job

Denied Reasonable Accommodation

If an employee feels that they are being denied a reasonable accommodation by their employer then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.